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Saturday, April 13, 2024

German banker becomes head of CobaManfred Knof

Deutsche Bank head of private customers, Manfred Knof, will head Commerzbank next year. The chances are good that the experienced manager will successfully reorganize the second largest German private bank.

That was quick. Hans-Jörg Vetter only celebrated his debut as head of the Commerzbank supervisory board in August. Within a few weeks, he can now present a successor to Martin Zielke, who resigned in the summer: Manfred Knof, 55 years old, and the head of private customers at Deutsche Bank. It should start in January of next year. If the European Central Bank approves the change – which is very likely

The choice of Knof has it all in several respects: That the supervisory board managed to quietly find a new CEO for the troubled big bank within a few weeks surprised many in Frankfurt. Such searches usually take months.

In addition, some incumbent Commerzbank board members are likely to be disillusioned. Recently, rumors have been circulating inside and outside the bank that chief corporate client Roland Boekhout is hoping for a promotion. From the dream.

Urgent need for renovation

Knof is seen in the industry as an ambitious visionary with plenty of digitization experience, who implements his strategies largely silently. When he integrated the previously legally independent private and corporate customer bank of Deutsche Bank into the group, this went largely unnoticed by the public. Before that, he worked his way up to Germany’s head in the Allianz Group And restructured the subsidiary, which is so important for the Allianz Group, also largely without making any noise – which is why he earned himself respect from employee representatives.

Knof will need the experience. The Frankfurt money house has plenty of problems – too high costs, too little income. Business is coming under additional pressure due to the corona pandemic and the resulting corporate bankruptcies. The newcomer at Frankfurter Kaiserplatz has to renovate the bank under high pressure and calm down nervous shareholders. Reduce more employees, close branches, which accelerate the slow digitalization. The headwind is programmed.

Anyone who expects the bank, which is 15.6 percent state-owned, to merge with a competitor – such as Deutsche Bank quickly – could be disappointed. In the vicinity of the supervisory board, one hears: Knof is firmly convinced that a second large private bank is needed in Germany alongside Deutsche Bank. That is why he wanted to stabilize the money house so that it could remain independent. It won’t be easy.  

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